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Culture. Knowledge. Leadership.


There have been three major legislative actions that restructured the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) with regard to educating American Indians since the Snyder Act of 1921. First, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 introduced the teaching of Indian history and culture in BIA schools (until then it had been Federal policy to acculturate and assimilate Indian people by eradicating their tribal cultures through a boarding school system). Second, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (P.L. 93-638) gave authority to federally recognized tribes to contract with the BIA for the operation of Bureau-funded schools and to determine education programs suitable for their children. The Education Amendments Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-561) and further technical amendments (P.L. 98-511, 99-99, and 100-297) provided funds directly to tribally operated schools, empowered Indian school boards, permitted local hiring of teachers and staff, and established a direct line of authority between the Education Director and the AS-IA. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) brought additional requirements to the schools by holding them accountable for improving their students’ academic performance with the U.S. Department of Education supplemental program funds they receive through the Bureau.

Formerly known as the Office of Indian Education Programs, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) was renamed and established on August 29, 2006, to reflect the parallel purpose and organizational structure BIE has in relation to other programs within the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs. The BIE is headed by a Director, who is responsible for the line direction and management of all education functions, including the formation of policies and procedures, the supervision of all program activities, and the approval of the expenditure of funds appropriated for education functions.

As stated in Title 25 CFR Part 32.3, BIE’s mission is to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe’s needs for cultural and economic well-being, in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities. Further, the BIE is to manifest consideration of the whole person by taking into account the spiritual, mental, physical, and cultural aspects of the individual within his or her family and tribal or village context. The BIE school system employs thousands of teachers, administrators and support personnel, while many more work in tribal school systems.

Currently, there are 183 Bureau-funded elementary and secondary schools, located on 64 reservations in 23 states, served approximately 46,000 Indian students. Of these, 55 are BIE-operated and 128 are tribally controlled under BIE contracts or grants. The Bureau also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools. The BIE also serves American Indian and Alaska Native postsecondary students through higher education scholarships and support funding for tribal colleges and universities. The BIE directly operates two postsecondary institutions: the Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is the preeminent provider of culturally relevant educational services and supports provided by highly effective educators to students at BIE-funded schools to foster lifelong learning.


Provide students at BIE-funded schools with a culturally relevant, high-quality education that prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to flourish in the opportunities of tomorrow, become healthy and successful individuals, and lead their communities and sovereign nations to a thriving future that preserves their unique cultural identities.

Core Values

BIE employees carry out the mission to achieve the vision through guiding organizational principles underpinning how the work will be successfully accomplished.

  • Excellence: The BIE achieves success through continuous self-assessment and improvement.
  • Focus: The BIE is student-centered, a commitment to addressing the holistic needs of students.
  • Integrity: The BIE maintains high standards of character and professionalism as the foundation upon which the agency is built.
  • Respect: The BIE fosters communities of support through mutual regard and collaboration.
  • Service: The BIE supports students through proactive and responsive teamwork with schools, Tribes, and communities.

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